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Eat What You Want

Throw out your elliptical machine, cancel your gym membership and drop your personal trainer. Forget everything you know about calories in, calories out. Catie Smith says that’s not the way to shed pounds and, best of all, repair your metabolism.

Her Dietology by Catie Smith program basically compares your body’s way of losing weight to food allergies. Your body can handle some foods and can’t tolerate others. Figuring out which foods you can eat and which foods cause you to gain weight form the core of this program.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Smith, who started her Dietology concept more than 30 years ago in Atlanta, breaks down weight loss into four areas: water retention, oxygen levels, weight loss and healing metabolism to the point that you can eat whatever you want. And who doesn’t want to gorge on the occasional all-you-can-eat buffet without gaining a pound?

Behind all of it is psychology, and hence the sobriquet Dietology. Much of the problem that Americans have with weight stems from peoples’ emotional feelings toward food. Smith, who is accredited with the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals, says that weekly or even bi-weekly sessions with her clients help determine how food interacts with their lives, and how to break the addictions.

But before Smith even gets inside her clients’ heads, it all starts with a special body composition scale that measures metabolic rate, body fat in pounds, water weight in pounds, muscle and bone weight, visceral body weight and impedance levels. Sounds like a mouthful, and a lot of numbers, but together they give Smith and her team the figures they need to determine which foods to add or subtract from the daily menu.

But first, a look at the components.

YOUR WATER BABY

Some clients who walk through Smith’s doors find that part of their weight can be attributed to water retention. In fact, some clients retain so much water that Smith only concentrates on that aspect of weight loss first. The prescription for change? Vitamin B6 and potassium to prevent cramping. Smith says drinking the same amount of water every day — 64 to 96 fluid ounces — will help your body shed extra water pounds to reflect your true weight. Consider that one gallon of water weighs four pounds and you start to see why losing water weight can really change the way you look.

"I had one patient come in who had 60 pounds of water weight," Smith said. "We just concentrated on that and he lost his weight."

BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT

Some patients have difficulty with their impedance levels, meaning they don’t get enough oxygen in their bodies. On Smith’s chart, an impedance of 350 is ideal. Higher levels (700 to 800) can indicate difficulty processing protein, which needs oxygen to break it down.

Smith offers those clients pure oxygen treatments that can help them lose two pounds in one session. While breathing pure oxygen can help, impedance levels can only be improved through special lung exercises that she teaches.

SHEDDING POUNDS

The real genius behind the program comes in the food. Smith advocates shopping around the exterior of grocery stores where fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, breads and dairy products can be found. Only full-fat foods such as real butter and cheese are permitted.

Foods with preservatives must be avoided. Think low-fat anything, frozen foods and even some prepacked deli meats. "If it can preserve on the shelf, it can preserve in your body," Smith said.

Smith has been known to tell potential new clients who have been on Jenny Craig or Lean Cuisine junkies that they need to eat regular whole foods for six months before they can start her program just to get the preservatives out of their systems.

Clients spend their first three days in the program on detox, a base diet that purges simple carbohydrates from their bodies. Then the program jumps around. "We tweak the diet for a couple of days to see how your body reacts," said Audree Shelton, a certified dietologist.

One week a client might be eating high protein for three days. Another might add baked potatoes to the mix two days a week. Another is a strict plan with specific foods such as tilapia, pears and eggs with tomatoes. Some plans are designed to see how a client’s metabolism and weight respond. "You just don’t know what’s going to work for everybody," Smith said. Each diet is tailor-made for each client.

For example, Smith found that some clients couldn’t lose weight when they ate tomatoes. For one client, adding a pear daily helped her lose weight. Another found that she gained weight when she ate cherries. Some clients are allergic to the fungus in foods such as mushrooms, while others can’t lose weight when they eat food that contains hormones, such as chicken.

Overall, Smith calls it food chemistry that fine-tunes your body into a weight-loss machine.

Dr. Judy Alexander, a doctor of pharmacology with St. Rose Dominican Hospital, said, "The science behind her program makes sense." Endocrinologists especially watch metabolic rates, and some intensive care units monitor a patient’s oxygen levels to determine how many calories they should intake daily to heal faster. As a Dietology client, Alexander has seen how eating recommended foods has dropped her metabolism by 100 points.

Linda Templeton started on the Dietology program last June after finding out that she had high blood pressure (200 over 106) and cholesterol (248 mg/dL) triglycerides (259 mg/dL). Within a month on the program, her doctor took her off her medications; her blood pressure dropped and her cholestoral fell by 40 points and her triglycerides dropped to 70 mg/dL. "The program to me is kind of priceless," said Templeton, who tried nearly every diet out there and worked out with a personal trainer before finding Dietology. "It gave me my life back. …I just wanted to learn how to eat."

Eat anything

Losing weight is the easy part; keeping it off can be tricky. Once the weight is off, Smith’s goal is to heal metabolism to the point that a bowl of ice cream, slice of chocolate cake or night of fried chicken won’t end up on your hips.

"You can work out for eight hours a day, seven days a week and only change your metabolism by 100 points in a month," Smith said. Through nutritious foods, Smith heals metabolism to the point that her clients truly can eat anything.

Nona Steigman started on the Dietology program last June and lost 36 pounds. Now she just works on repairing her metabolism. "I’m gradually learning what I can eat, how much I can eat and being very surprised that even when I stretched the envelope, the metabolism kicks in," said Steigman, a confessed sugar junkie who now substitutes watermelon or an apple a day to satisfy her sweet tooth.

"I’m not eating anything that I wouldn’t normally eat," she said. "It’s the combination that you’re eating that does the trick."

Contact Image Editor Susan Stapleton at sstapleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2909.

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